Last week we saw the “new Toronto FC” when the Reds, spurred on by Sebastian Giovinco, came from three goals down to earn a valuable draw away from home against Columbus.
On Saturday night, we saw the “old Toronto FC,” as Greg Vanney’s side imploded on the road in a humiliating 3-1 loss to New England, a game that was eerily reminiscent of the club’s trademark limp efforts under previous regimes.
How poor were TFC on this evening? So bad that Vanney essentially waived the white flag by pulling off Giovinco at the start of the second half with his team down two goals and a man down after Jozy Altidore was sent off in the 39th minute for petulantly kicking out at Jose Goncalves.
There was no coming back. Not this time. Vanney knew that, and he understood that discretion was the better part of valour. With two games in the next seven days he wisely decided to rest his star player for the second half of a match that was well beyond TFC’s reach by halftime.
“For me, it didn’t make sense to push him for another 45 minutes on the turf,” Vanney said.
This humbling defeat offered a blast from the past, a dreadful performance blighted by a lack of discipline and comical defending that were the hallmarks of TFC from previous seasons. Just when you think Toronto FC has finally turned the corner and firmly distanced itself from the culture of losing and haplessness that has dogged this franchise since day one, the Reds lay an egg like this one in Boston.
Not even the steady form of newly-acquired Moroccan international Ahmed Kantari in the centre of defence, nor the bright play of youngsters Jonathan Osorio and Jay Chapman (who came on for Giovinco) in the second half offered much of a silver lining around what was one of Toronto’s most lacklustre outings of this MLS campaign.
You could tell it was going to be a long night for the Reds even before Altidore was sent off.
“We weren’t playing great, we weren’t taking care of the ball. We were defending a little too passively (before Altidore’s expulsion),” Vanney explained.
Vanney also admitted that Altidore, who served as captain on the night, “lost his head” and that he was surprised by the U.S. international forward’s reaction.
There was a lot to be embarrassed about in this one from a TFC perspective.
Altidore’s act of pure stupidity topped a pretty long list, followed by Damien Perquis needlessly giving away a penalty late in the first half when he tugged down Kelyn Rowe.
Then there was TFC’s flat-footed defending on the Revs’ first goal following a restart after an unnecessary foul by Robbie Findley, and the complete lack of defensive disorganization on the third goal, again scored off a set piece.
With 14 goals against in their last four road games, it’s clear this team has defensive issues. What’s worrying is that Perquis is quickly becoming a liability for his lack of composure and for often being on the wrong side of attacking players inside the box—that’s what led to him bringing down Rowe.
Kantari was brought in to add some experience and leadership to the back line, but also to provide Perquis with a suitable, and long-term partner in the central of defence. More and more, though, it’s looking like TFC needs to go out and find another centre back because Perquis simply isn’t cutting it.